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Trailing Abutilon Flowers Year Round

This article was first published on 21 Aug 2020.

Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon megapotamicum

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

If you’ve become addicted to gardening and want to learn about plant nomenclature, that is, the botanical naming of plants in Latin, it’s hard to know where to start.  You could start alphabetically then it wouldn’t be long till you came across the beautiful genus of Abutilon.

Abutilon megapotamicum is called the trailing abutilon for good reason, seldom growing locally much above 1 to 2 metres in height.  In its warmer country of origin, Brazil, it is said to reach the considerable height of 2.5m.

In the lower botanic garden car park there is a group of 12, planted in 2016. They are well established now, growing in front of a line of native cabbage trees, with the trees’ textured trunks providing the backdrop.

The trailing abutilon shrub flowers for a long season, starting in spring and continuing through to autumn.  In some situations where it is sheltered and healthy it can flower all year round and this is the case in the car park.  The flowers are only about 4cm long, but they make up for smallness by being floriferous and pendulous and having striking colours.

Each flower dangles from the current growth showing the staggered stages in a line of development from bud to full flower.  First the red bud grows on the hanging flower stalk, then the bright yellow petals develop to become exposed, and finally the burgundy stamens emerge to dangle below.  The result is three layers of colour from each small flower.